Şerif Baştav

Keywords: Ottoman Empire, Byzantine, Europe


The onslaught of the Mongolian invasions in the 13th century disturbed the earlier settled conditions in the Near East, with the populace running for their lives from the Mongolians. They passed through Seljuk lands, as that society was also coming apart, and took shelter in Western Anatolia. Among these people who were searching for plunder and land were the Ottoman ancestors. The Ottomans traveled as far as the Byzantine province of Bythnia. A by product of the establishment by the clan of Oğuz of the Uç (Outer) Beglik was that the site they chose for this principality turned out to be very important. Not only was it surrounded by other powerful Turkish emirates, to its left was the Byzantine empire, an empire on the point of disintegration and dissolution. This situation privded the Ottomans with tremendous opportunities for plunder and growth. The Ottoman took advantage of this advantage and in one hundred years transformed their principality into a world empire. The Ottomans were to lay the foundations of their empire on European (Rumeli) lands. The fact that the Byzantine and other Balkan governments were weak and that the Western European lands were in a state of confusion acted to open broad horizons for this young and dynamic state. At the beginning the Ottomans played a role in Byzantine inner conflicts, got to know these countries, and were able to learn first hand the weaknesses of the Balkan states. At a later period Byzantines themselves weakened due to conflicts within the church, struggles for the throne, rebellions, attacks by Italian states, and the lack of interest of western governments. Powerless and lacking the wherewithall to converge its own troops, it was impossible for the Byzantines to withstand the rise of the Ottomans. The founders of the Ottoman state were Orhan Gazi and Murad Hudavendigar. At that time, Venice and Genoa and Serbia and Bulgaria constituted the Ottoman's main competitors. While the pope initially acted as leader of the Western Christian forces, he fell prey to disputes from within and weakened accordingly. Diffcrences in religious thought. led to disputes between the Greeks and the Latins who divided into two seperate camps. It was thus that the Ottomans, candidates for a bright future, came face to face with such a chaotic world.